Geneticists have long thought that schizophrenia and autism are two separate and unrelated conditions. However, a trio of researchers working on the genetics behind psychiatric disorders have made a new discovery: “People may be more prone to autism spectrum disorders if they have family members with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.” (Treatment Advocacy Center)
How are schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and autism spectrum disorder similar?
Positive symptoms of schizophrenia such as auditory and visual hallucinations have a sensory component, and sensory processing disorders occur in an estimated 90% of individuals on the autistic spectrum. Negative symptoms such as lack of engagement with the world and other people that occur in schizophrenia also are diagnostic flags for autism.
In the study that was done, analyses of genetic collections revealed that individuals with autism had similar proportions of relatives with schizophrenia or biopolar disorder. The importance of this link is the hope that, with more research on the similarities between the disorders, we will be better able to diagnose and treat them.